On June 23, 1946 Rev. Glenn McKinley Sauder, his wife Laura, and 82 charter members established First Presbyterian Church of Muskegon. Worship, meetings and church school were held for a few years in Rev. Sauder’s home. Anxious to have their own space, two lots were purchased for $1,850 and ground was broken for the Chapel on January 20, 1950. Two of the oldest charter members, Mrs. Margaret Rowen, age 84, and Mr. David Saunder, age 88, scooped the first shovels-full of dirt. The Chapel was completed at a cost of $60,000 and was paid through contributions by members, neighbors and friends. The Chapel was used for the first time on February 25, 1951. The Wurlitzer Organ was donated by the Women’s Guild on May 6, 1951 and a dedication service of the Chapel was held on May 20, 1951.
Rev. Jacob Charles DeVries was called as pastor, and he, his wife Ann and daughter Kathleen began service on September 5, 1952. It quickly grew through childhood and adolescence and came of age under the guidance and leadership of pastors, educators, musicians, elders, deacons, and strong congregational leadership. Because of the growth of the congregation, the decision was made in 1955 to construct a second unit to the church. Dedication of the new building was held March 16, 1958. After twenty years of service to the church and community, Rev. DeVries retired in September 1972. He served as Pastor Emeritus until his death at age 78 on December 20, 1989. Ann DeVries passed away on January 29, 1991.
Rev. Donald L. Mathews arrived with his wife Grace and children, Mark, Timothy, and Elizabeth on December 1, 1973. He was installed as pastor on December 27, 1973. Rev. Mathews served sixteen and one-half years, retiring in April 1990. He was actively involved in Muskegon County Cooperating Churches, Clergy Fellowship, religious cable TV programs, and other ecumenical groups. Under his leadership, various improvements were made to the building and grounds. He is now Pastor Emeritus of FPC Muskegon.
Rev. Cynthia Keever became our first Associate Pastor/Christian Education Director, being installed on July 16, 1989.
Dedication of the 19-rank, two manual Casavant pipe organ was held on February 24, 1991 and the chimes were added in 1995 as a gift from Clarke and Jean Manning.
Between June 1, 1990 and June 1, 1992 the church would be served by three outstanding interim pastors: Rev. Brad Rohwer, Rev. Dr. George Hunsberger and Rev. Dr. Ned Pierson.
Rev. Dr. Stephen R. Vance would be installed on June 21, 1992 with his wife Vonnie. During Steve’s ministry, the Memorial Garden was built. Steve and Vonnie had this done as a tribute to Steve’s dad, who passed away very unexpectedly. Steve and Vonnie left us in 1998.
In 1999 an extensive renovation to the classrooms began for our Christian Education Department.
Rev. Anna Kay Baker served as interim pastor until late spring 2000 and would carry us through with a new elevator, handicapped-accessible restroom, new carpeting throughout and remodeling of the Chapel and Chapel kitchen, along with refurbishing the Fellowship Hall.
Rev. Dr. Fred R. Halde began his ministry at FPC on June 16, 2000 with his wife Cynthia. Rev. Halde guided the congregation through a complete Sanctuary renovation which included our outstanding stained glass windows depicting the Old and New Testaments. Rev. Halde retired on September 30, 2010.
Rev. Cynthia Holder Rich served as our interim pastor from October 15, 2010 until October 23, 2011.
Rev. James (Jim) B. Rausch began his ministry here on November 15, 2011 and was formally installed January 22, 2012. He and his wife, Chris, moved with their children, Jennica and Jacob, to Muskegon from Kansas where he served a church as pastor for thirteen years.
We have sought to be the body of Christ in Muskegon and in the world for 63 years. May we continue with that same resolve as we journey into the future. “A look at the past reminds us of our debt to those who have gone before! A look at the present reminds us that the church is always only the generation from extinction. A look at the future is a reminder that our hope in Jesus Christ whom in faith we claim as Lord!”